March 17, 2017

While Others Wind Down, ADRA Bumps Up Aid to Haiti

Libna Stevens, Inter-American Division

While other charities and relief agencies are winding down their short-term relief projects in Haiti, the Adventist Development and Relief Agency (ADRA) is bumping up its aid to the country on behalf of displaced families still affected by Hurricane Matthew, which hit the island nation last October. The hurricane moved into Haiti’s south peninsula on Oct. 3, and stayed for nearly 36 hours at winds of 136 miles an hour, causing mudslides, flooding and bridges and roads to collapse.

ADRA Haiti is now distributing water purification units and food kits in the area, at the start of an ADRA response project that will assist some 1,730 families in the Roche-à-Bateau municipal district, as well as provide assistance to more than 3,000 families in Haiti’s south peninsula in the coming weeks, said Fritz Bissereth, ADRA Haiti Director.

Fritz Bissereth, ADRA Haiti Director, explains how to use the water purification units being distributed in the southern peninsula. [Photo by Libna Stevens]

“Two hundred of the neediest families received one Sawyer water purification unit, and three boxes of 108 packs of rice rich in nutrients and vitamins from ‘Stop Hunger Now,’ a nongovernmental organization,” said Bissereth, who added that there are families still in dire need of homes, food and hope, and ADRA is doing what it can to bring some relief.

More than 500 were already in line early in the day waiting for ADRA’s delivery on Feb. 22, 2017, at the St. Michel Archange Catholic Church property in Rocheà-Bateau. The two hundred that held small pink notes stood in a tight line under the coastal afternoon sun to hear instructions on how to use the water purification unit to prevent cholera at home and in their communities.

Antojean Claude, a 26-year-old farmer and father of a two-year-old son, waited for hours to get the goods. “My house was destroyed and I lost everything I owned,” said Claude. He was among many farmers who lost all their crops when Matthew swept in and uprooted plantations in Roche-à-Bateau and the surrounding communities.

“We are so thankful for the continued assistance ADRA will be providing for our people here in upcoming weeks and months.”

“We are waiting for the rain so that we can plant corn, beans, and cassava to sell and so that I can support my family,” explained Claude. In the meantime, he is grateful for the rice and the help ADRA is giving to his hometown.

Mayor of Roche-à-Bateau Luvana Beaubrun thanked ADRA and its volunteers for the commitment to providing assistance to her district. Beaubrun is among three mayors overseeing shelters with local officials to coordinate relief assistance with ADRA in the district. She too, like the 23,000 people who live Roche-à-Bateau, was affected by the hurricane.

“My house was completely destroyed and I had to stay at a shelter for sometime so I sympathize with all our homeless families here,” said Beaubrun. Beaubrun said she had never seen such a disaster come through the south peninsula.

The last severe storm to hit Haiti was in 1963, according to the National Meteorological Center.

“We are so thankful for the continued assistance ADRA will be providing for our people here in upcoming weeks and months,” she said.

ADRA Haiti will be making a dozen more similar deliveries in the coming months, said Enock Bertrand, ADRA Haiti coordinator in the south region office, which is headquartered 46 kilometers east of Roche–à-Bateau in Les Cayes.

Bertrand is glad to be part of transmitting some hope through the work ADRA is doing in the south peninsula. “We have been doing many activities here in Roche-à-Bateau because our interest is not only to provide assistance but to give them the tools to rebuild their lives after a disaster like this strikes,” said Bertrand.

Bettering the lives of people is at the heart of ADRA’s mission with its long-term development programs and emergency response to affected communities, reaffirmed Bissereth.

There are still challenges to reach so many more who were affected by Hurricane Matthew, said Bissereth, but “ADRA continues to work hard to make a difference.”